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Sister Richard Bussing

Sister Richard Bussing

“And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

— Genesis 1:24-31

The word of God

Sister Richard Bussing

Teacher for 35 years in schools in North Carolina, Illinois, Texas and California

In North Carolina: St. Patrick, Fayetteville (1942-44).

In Illinois: St. Andrew, Chicago (1944-48); St. Sylvester, Chicago (1951-55); St. Mel, Chicago (1965-66).

In Texas: St. John, Robstown (1955-59 and 1966-68).

In California: St. Joseph, Hawthorne (1948-51); St. Teresa, Los Angeles (Principal, 1959-65); St. Elizabeth, Van Nuys (1968-69); St. Anthony, Gardena (1969-74); St. Ambrose, Hollywood (1974-77)

This somewhat abbreviated version of the Genesis account of the origins of our universe is presented this morning not in order to lay groundwork for a scientific versus Biblical debate over the cosmos. Nothing could be less pleasing to Sister Richard, said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Richard Bussing, who died Tuesday, September 5, 2017, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 95 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 77 years.

The Bible, as has been pointed out by many, is neither an historical nor a scientific document. It is poetry and, as is true of all poetry, it consists of certain language features. Just as English poetry may have similes, metaphor, rhyme and rhythm, so the Hebrew verse makes consistent use of repetition. I have a prosaic friend who used to complain about the abundance of alleluias as well as other words and phrases. Be mindful of the “chariots and charioteers” mentioned again and again in the narrative of the flight from Egypt. The use of repetition served to emphasize an idea or concept that was important to the meaning of the work. It is in the interpretation of the figures of speech that we may often experience conflict.

In the creation story, one cannot but be impressed by God’s pleasure with his own craft. He saw at each stage that it was very good. We remember Jesus saying to the crowds when they praised him as good, ‘No one is good but God alone,’ and see in that statement a reiteration of the divine Presence in all things natural, even one another. Just as we can find artists in their landscapes, composers in their symphonies, and almighty God in a lilac bush.

And this brings us to Sister Richard, born on Jan. 10, 1922, and baptized Dorothy Ann Bussing at Annunciation Church in Brazil, Indiana. Nurtured under the compassionate hands of a large loving family and the firm but familial tutelage of the Sisters of Providence in the small parish school, Dorothy chose to follow her older sister, Marcella (Sister Francis Eugene) to the nearby motherhouse of the sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, entering the novitiate on Jan. 6, 1940. By the time of her perpetual profession on Aug. 15, 1948, Richard and Francis Eugene had been joined by Eleanor (Sister Marie Eugene), forming a second Bussing enclave in the Wabash Valley. The fourth Bussing, Francis or Frank, having settled into his retirement apartment at Maryvale has proven that the Bussing spirit of caring and giving is not limited to the female side of the family. He has been and continues to be, our brother in faith and in fact.

Richard’s professional ministry has gone from being a kindergarten teacher to ministry to the elderly. But what has persisted through all of this has been her love for and attachment to God’s great gift of creation. To look for her presence was to follow a path of green plants from corridor to windowsill to cubby hole and statue and ultimately out of doors to patio or shrine path. Somewhere along the way she would be found trimming, weeding, watering or otherwise, tending God’s gifts and exemplifying that these are still the ‘very good’ of Genesis. Of late, more and more she would not be found in her usual stance, that is, working, but in quiet contemplation of this reflection of the Eternal Garden BF (before the fall). Somewhere in scripture, we are told that before the creation of Eve, God came in the early evening to walk with Adam. We can only pray for a similar destiny if we begin in the present moment and like Sister Richard, see him and walk with him finding the Good, the True and the Beautiful in the simple, everyday gifts of life.

Funeral services for Sister Richard took place on Friday, September 8, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

A Wake will took place at 9 a.m., with Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m.

We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Richard in the comment section below.

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  1. Avatar Anthony Cetro on September 8, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    What a “gem” was Sr. Richard. She was my 6th grade teacher at St.Sylvester in 1953. I kept track of Sister and always managed to keep in touch. I visited her in Texas and also in California. When we moved to Los Angeles, Sister spent the week-end with us. So many memories have flooded my mind. Two that stand out are: During the time in Chicago, I would pick up the Sisters and take them to the Milk Pail Restaurant in the country. When we walked in and they saw the sisters, we immediately were given a table with a view. After the Sisters no longer wore the habit, we had to wait. I told Sr. Richard: If you were still in the habit, we would have been seated. We all had a good laugh. Another time on the way back to the convent, I asked the Sisters if they would mind visiting mu aunt. They agreed. Now, in those days, we were never allowed in the Living Room. We were always in the rec room in the basement. When they saw the Sisters, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. Immediately they were ushered into the living room. Wine and food was presented. I told Sr. Richard and Ruth Marie that they have to visit more often. My aunt never forget the visit and always told everyone how honored she was to have the Sisters in her home. God Bless Sister. Rest and Peace and tell Sr. Marie Eugene I said: Hi

  2. Avatar Sharon Voller on July 24, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    I met SIster Richard when I was attending college in Missoula, MT. I was one of the college girls who came to take care of Hulda each day. Sister was so kind to Hulda, who had been ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. She was a firecracker and kept all of the girls in line. I was fortunate to be able to attend Sister’s 50th Jubilee (on my birthday). I always looked forward to going to work and was able to be employed by Sister for most of my college career as Hulda passed away just a few months before I graduated. I always wondered what happened to Sister, so decided to look her up. Wow, SIster, you lived a long life…

  3. Avatar Mary Louise Reynolds on November 13, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Words can hardly express my gratitude for Sister Richard; for her life and caring, her humor and devotion to others. She cared for my dear Aunt Hulda for many years and I got to see love in action and learned from her. Most of all , her practicality , strength,and cheerfulness under sometimes very difficult situations, have been an example to me that I will always cherish. Sister, your life has changed mine and I am forever grateful.

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